Jul 03, 2012

East Turkestan: Pressure Over Uyghur Asylum Seekers Cases

The Swedish migration authorities have come under severe criticism by human rights organizations for their handling of Uyghur asylum seekers, who face severe political persecution when they are deported.

Below is an article published by the Epoch Times:

Swedish migration authorities are coming under pressure to look very closely at a current case of two Uyghur asylum seekers before them. The two who have been notified that they may be deported, and there is concern after two other Uyghurs it deported in January disappeared soon after returning to China.

Human rights groups have criticized the Swedish authorities for what they called the latter’s ignorance of the Chinese regime’s policies against the Muslim minority. They are urging authorities to think carefully about upcoming cases involving Uyghurs. 

 “Sweden has been reputed for its fair treatment and handling of refugee cases, but the recent trend of deporting Uyghur refugees who will face severe political persecution after deportation to China is disturbing,” the World Uyghur Congress wrote in a press release on June 20.

Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking people living mainly in Western China’s Xinjiang Province. At risk, primarily, are those who have engaged in pro-democracy or anti-regime protests or advocacy. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has restrictive cultural policies in Xinjiang that Uyghurs often object to.

Amnesty International also criticized the Swedish Migration Board and two Swedish courts that handled the appeals process. 

“The migration board’s assessments reflect a lack of insight into the situation in Xinjiang,” Madelaine Seidlitz of Amnesty International’s Stockholm office told The Epoch Times. 

“Amnesty has written a statement about these refugees and left it to the migration boards and the relevant courts. The lack of knowledge leads to incorrect conclusions and incorrect decisions,” she said. 

After learning of the objections, the migration board reopened the cases of the two who were already deported.

“This is a ‘security valve’ in the system,” Mikael Ribbenvik, director of Legal Affairs at the Swedish Migration Board, told The Epoch Times. “When there are new circumstances, we can do a second investigation, even after the final appeal.”

Ribbenvik said that he knows the situation in Xinjiang is “extremely serious.” 

The two Uyghurs before the board now—Merhaba Dilmurat, 23, female, and Tughluq Hemit—have both participated in political activities before and after leaving China, and fear they may be targets for the Communist Party’s security forces because of that.

“I took part in demonstrations; I took part in a lot of activities,” Hemit said in an interview with Radio Free Asia in June. “Now, the Swedish immigration bureau wants to send me back there because they think I won’t have any problems.” 

“Right now we are in a lot of danger,” he said.